Last year, I posted to this blog twenty-eight times during the month of December. This was because of something called #reverb10, essentially a month-long blogging challenge designed for reflecting on the year that is nearly over. The impetus to write every day was fantastic, and I wanted to replicate it for this year.
But I didn’t love the #reverb10 format. It ended up feeling a lot like mental masturbation. Publicly. As somebody who has seen others jacking it in public at least a dozen times, I can confidently assert that nobody wants to see that. Plus, blogging tends toward the onanistic even at the best of times, so #reverb10 made for a lot of self-indulgent posts and, ugh, blogs about blogging.
So I wasn’t disappointed the other day to receive an email informing me, and a lot of other people, that #reverb11 wouldn’t be happening, at least not officially. But shit, it was also confirmation that I would need to come up with things to write about for thirty-one days straight. Including weekends, when the Internet resembles an Eastern Oregon ghost town with a tumbleweed rolling past the burned-out saloon.
I took this as my inspiration for today:
October, talk getting nowhere
November… December… remember
We just start it again
Perhaps you are familiar with these words. They are from the song “Please” by U2, about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, off the 1997 album Pop. I haven’t actually heard it in years. I think I started thinking about this song because my friend Valerie got to meet Bono the day before yesterday.
This was my favorite song on the album, which was their last that I really, truly loved. I was 17 at the time, so when Bono exhorted, “Please, please get up off your knees,” I obviously heard a reference to oral sex. (Actually, he was asking Northern Irish politicians to stop being guided by religion. So, pretty similar.)
My very first act of rebellion is closely tied to this album: I cut a math class with my friend Chris, also a stressed-out teenager, to purchase tickets to see U2 on their PopMart Tour without our parents’ permission. I should mention that the show was located more than 100 miles away from our town.
If we would have asked our parents, we likely would have been shot down (I would have for sure). But we didn’t. We went ahead and acted. It was exhilarating.
I recently came into possession of the t-shirt I bought at that show. But that’s another post.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of talk getting nowhere. Other people have too — it’s what inspired them to take to the streets, to occupy, to demand action from their elected representatives. I’ve also been thinking about it on a more micro level. This is because, in 2011, I’ve been surrounded by failed relationships. If you’ve never experienced this, I don’t recommend it. Many of the people I care about most have been really, really sad. If a barrage of sad people doesn’t make you at least a little bit down, you are probably a dick.
I still don’t understand why some of those connections frayed; in some instances, it was probably for the best. But in every case, talk failed. Hearts were broken.
As a person who writes for money, I have this idea that positive, effective communication can solve everything. Are you being insensitive to my feelings? Well, it’s obviously because I haven’t explained them well enough to you, here, let me try again.
Except, maybe not. Maybe you’re just an asshole who doesn’t give a shit. Or maybe I need to close my mouth and take responsibility for my own emotions. Probably both.
Saying the right things doesn’t change anything. I’ve finally learned that relying on talk alone only serves to create more of the same: The next year, the next president, the next relationship — they’ll play out just like the last one. That is, unless our behaviors change.
RZ and I talked about moving to Portland for at least two years before we just did it. Now that we are here, I realize that I can’t blame the things that aren’t going as well as I’d like on being homesick, on New York being stressful and cold/hot and annoying. Getting up every morning, living my days the way I truly want to and connecting with other humans makes me happy.
Writing here makes me happy.
Riding my bike makes me happy.
Putting in the work sucks, but it also makes me happy.
Knowing that I don’t have to be sad just because other people are … doesn’t make me happy. But it helps me to not be sad.